“Terrific detective work and terrific fun to read.” —  Marion Nestle, Ph.D, MPH, author of What to Eat, Food Politics, and Safe Food

“ [A] delightful romp through the food processing industry….” — Publishers Weekly

“Everything you ever wanted to know about the ingredients in a Twinkie but were afraid to ask…A fascinating global tale.”  — Andy Smith, editor in chief, Oxford Companion to Food and Drink in America

“…you will never read a label the same way again.” — Newsweek Magazine  (5th most-viewed article on newsweek.com 3/2/07)

“…Ettlinger digs deep and does it skillfully.”  — The Denver Post, by Steve Weinberg, director of the National Book Critics Circle

“It’s the latest in a recent boom of food-investigation books…” — The Wall Street Journal

“ Slim, bearded and armed with a streak of geeky good humor, Ettlinger is like a professor with a passion for food. When he orders a hot chocolate with whipped cream from Starbucks “for research purposes,” he’s telling the truth.” — NY Daily News  (Ed. note:  The term “slim” was NOT provided  by the author, who cannot vouch for its accuracy.)

“[Ettlinger] went above and beyond the call of duty to decode the inner workings of the scrumptious food…. — NPR’s “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” (as an answer, 3/10-16/07)

“It’s Twinkie time!” [Clip from the fabulous launch party] — YOU TUBE  

“A great book!” “Amazing book!” — The Lisa Birnbach Show

“A ‘holy cow!’ every ten pages!  A great read!” — Don Weeks, WGY Morning News 

“If you want to explore all the unpronounceable and highly suspect ingredients we consume daily, what better starting point could you choose than that classic golden creme-filled cake reputedly capable of withstanding a nuclear holocaust?” — Washington Post

“A brilliant book!” — Scott Cluthe, “Positively Incorrect” – lime.com/Sirius Radio

“Ettlinger shares his enriched and tasty Twinkie tale one morsel at a time.  The effect is satiating.” — boldtype.com

“Get this book!” — KALZ Alice In the Morning 

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What people are saying about Steve’s public speaking:

We really appreciate it and EVERYONE LOVED your lecture! I honestly haven’t stopped boasting about it! — Mariam Rizk, Univ. of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Steve’s presentation at Google was one of the season’s most well-attended talks.  Steve’s wealth of knowledge, wit, and sense of humor make for a great presentation for any audience, large or small.” — Authors@Google

“No one will ever hear Steve’s talk and be able to think about food in the same way they did before.  A real treat for the audience.” –Mary L. Nucci

Research Analyst, The Food Policy Institute, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

“There was a long, happy book-signing line at the end of the evening. I recommend Steve Ettlinger as a speaker and I think his topic, an insider’s look at the chemicals we all eat, should interest anyone curious about their world and their diet.” –Steve Herman,

Program Chairman, NY Chapter of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists

“Steve Ettlinger was an engaging and inspirational speaker, and gave a fantastic presentation at Berkeley, which appealed to undergraduates, graduate students, faculty and community members.  He talked in a way that presented a lot of content and information without being dry, and also translated many technical, food science terms and jargon into language that was comprehensible and interesting to a wide audience.”  — Lia Fernald, Asst. Professor, UC Berkeley School of Public Health

“Our night with Steve Ettlinger was one of our most successful events ever! — Kerry Trueman, co-founder, Eating Liberally

“Informative and hilarious!” — Univ. of Illinois

A pop-science journey into the surprising ingredients found in dozens of common processed foods, 

using the Twinkie label as a guide

Like most Americans, Steve Ettlinger eats processed foods. And, like most consumers, he often reads the ingredients label—without a clue as to what most of it means. So, when his young daughter asked, “Daddy, what’s polysorbate 60?” while eating ice cream bars at the beach on a hot summer day, he was at a loss—and determined to find out.

In this fascinating exploration into the curious world of packaged foods, Twinkie, Deconstructed takes us from phosphate mines in Idaho to corn fields in Iowa, from gypsum mines in Oklahoma to oil fields in China, to demystify some of America’s most common processed food ingredients—where they come from, how they are made, how they are used—and why. Beginning at the source (hint: they’re often more closely linked to rocks and petroleum than any of the four food groups), Ettlinger reveals how each Twinkie ingredient goes through the process of being crushed, baked, fermented, refined, and/or reacted into a totally unrecognizable goo or powder with a strange name—all for the sake of creating a simple snack cake.

An insightful, entertaining exploration of modern food industry, if you’ve ever wondered what you’re eating when you consume foods containing mono and diglycerides or calcium sulfate (the latter, a food-grade equivalent of plaster of Paris), this book is for you.

Steve Ettlinger, author of seven books, has long been fascinated with everyday consumer products from hardware to beer.  He has appeared on all the major morning network TV shows as well as many other national and regional shows.  A veteran of dozens of radio and newspaper interviews, his interviews and essays have been syndicated and blogged widely.  He lives in New York City with his wife and their two children.

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College activity coordinators, FYE coordinators, orientation coordinators, meeting chairs, professional meeting planners, event planners, event coordinators – if you are interested, contact Steve Ettlinger at steve@steveettlinger.com, or call 212-683-0355 to discuss your event.  More info on “Speaking” page, here.

Steve Ettlinger’s lectures are handled by CreativeWell, Inc. (“Lectures with Impact”).

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Steve Ettlinger loves speaking (and showing his pictures) to a wide variety of groups, from entire campuses to individual classes.  He is honored to have spoken at Google Headquarters, the “Googleplex”, in California, as part of their “Authors@Google” series.  Video of the one-hour talk is on YouTube (click here).

Steve has been a featured speaker at many colleges, sponsored by food, food science, nutrition, science, or environmental and sustainable living interest groups, as well as at food product industry, scientific and technical conferences, including:


  1. New York University Department of Nutrition,Food Studies, and Public Health (several times)

  2. Rutgers University Food Policy Institute

  3. University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health

  4. Wheaton College

  5. Ohio Wesleyan University, Sagan National Colloquium

  6. The New School for Social Research Food Studies Program

  7. American Association of Cereal Chemists

  8. Rockford College

  9. Illinois State University

  10. University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign

  11. Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture 

  12. University of New Hampshire

  13. The New School Food Studies Program

  14. University of Kansas White School of Journalism and Mass Communications 

  15. Google Headquarters – Authors@Google


Twinkie has been adopted for both class and FYE (First Year Experience) use.  Steve is available to speak at such colleges, too.  Schools may obtain free desk copies if they are considering adopting it for classroom use by contacting Penguin academic marketing — click here or call 212-366-2375.

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For interviews: Media Contact:

Elizabeth Keenan, Hudson Street Press/Penguin



Hardcover publication date:  March 1, 2007

Paperback publication date:  Feb. 26, 2008

Twinkie, Deconstructed is available from any and all bookstores, including Amazon.com, as a paperback, hardcover, Kindle ebook, and as a downloadable audiobook.  Available also on CD directly from Listen and Live and online/instantly downloadable at audible.com and iTunes.


See MEDIA INFO for some interviews and features, including Newsweek magazine, LA Times Op-Ed piece on Chinese food ingredients (also reproduced on The Huffington Post and syndicated widely by the LA Times/Washington Post syndicate. ), and an ABC World News Tonight webcast.  Steve is an invited contributor to the Huffington Post.

Contact Steve Ettlinger directly via your choice of three ways:



Steve Ettlinger

26 Bedford Street, #1-C

New York, NY 10014

The book that uses the Twinkies ingredient list 

for its table of contents!